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Cultures of dairying: gene-culture-microbiome evolution and the ancient invention of dairy foods

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 DAIRYCULTURES project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the DAIRYCULTURES project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "DAIRYCULTURES" about.

digestion    country    refine    relatively    peoples    inability    regarded    puzzling    gut    ecology    record    fundamental    age    steppe    few    mongolian    genotypes    prehistoric    appear    nutritional    human    besides    dairy    body    successful    regarding    resource    cutting    paradox    populations    classic    questions    spread    herders    500    microbiome    phenotypes    answer    poorly    dairying    proteomics    adult    consistently    hypotheses    edge    dietary    migrations    persistence    hypolactasia    evolution    archaeological    calculus    genomics    proteins    milk    mongolia    digest    lactase    derives    played    metagenomics    overlooked    continued    rural    microbes    until    gene    80    prehistory    societies    nomadic    association    diet    lactose    summary    establishment    culture    emergence    shift    left    trait    sugar    archaeologists    intolerance    eurasia    practiced    techniques    economies    global    ancient    basic    economic    variants    adulthood    lp    bronze    origins    detecting    relationship    ancestral    contributed    livestock    marks    dental    genetic    roles   

Project "DAIRYCULTURES" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 80539
website: n.a.

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙499˙988 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙988 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2018-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-11-01   to  2023-10-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Summary: Dairy products are nutritional resources of global economic importance, and their emergence in prehistory marks a major shift in human dietary ecology. However, basic questions regarding the origins and role of dairying in early human societies remain poorly understood. It is now known that adult hypolactasia (the inability to digest milk sugar) is an ancestral human trait, and that relatively few human populations have genetic variants that allow continued milk digestion into adulthood, a trait known as lactase persistence (LP). The rise of LP has been regarded as a classic example of gene-culture evolution; however, the association between LP and lactose intolerance phenotypes is variable, and LP genotypes do not consistently appear in the archaeological record until more than 5,000 years after the origins of dairying. This has left archaeologists with a puzzling problem, a “milk paradox” regarding how and why ancient peoples developed milk into a dietary resource, how the Bronze Age steppe migrations contributed to the spread of dairying across Eurasia, and what other factors besides LP may have been involved this process. There is now a growing body of evidence that microbes have played important, yet overlooked, roles in the successful establishment of prehistoric dairying economies. This study seeks to answer fundamental questions about the prehistory of dairying by focusing on Mongolia, a country where as much as 80% of the rural diet derives from dairy products, and where dairying has been practiced for more than 3,500 years. Specifically, cutting-edge genomics techniques will be used to identify the origins of Mongolian dairy livestock, proteomics techniques will be used to refine methods for detecting milk proteins in archaeological Mongolian dental calculus, and metagenomics techniques will be used to test hypotheses regarding the relationship between the gut microbiome, lactose digestion, and LP genotypes in nomadic Mongolian dairy herders.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Choongwon Jeong, Shevan Wilkin, Tsend Amgalantugs, Abigail S. Bouwman, William Timothy Treal Taylor, Richard W. Hagan, Sabri Bromage, Soninkhishig Tsolmon, Christian Trachsel, Jonas Grossmann, Judith Littleton, Cheryl A. Makarewicz, John Krigbaum, Marta Burri, Ashley Scott, Ganmaa Davaasambuu, Joshua Wright, Franziska Irmer, Erdene Myagmar, Nicole Boivin, Martine Robbeets, Frank J. Rühli, Johanne
Bronze Age population dynamics and the rise of dairy pastoralism on the eastern Eurasian steppe
published pages: E11248-E11255, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1813608115
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115/48 2019-11-08

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